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Porcello hurls 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball

As the Indians and Tigers head into the final day of the regular season, they do so having endured very different second halves of the season. When the season broke for the All-Star Game, the clubs were separated by a half-game in the standings, with the Tigers leading the way. When they meet for Wednesday's matchup, they will do so with Detroit preparing for the American League Division Series with a 14-game lead in the AL Central, while the Indians look ahead to another quiet October.

However, for Detroit, there are two important elements to the finale. One is the Tigers' chance of winning home-field advantage during the Division Series. The other is getting a playoff tuneup for Rick Porcello.

Detroit enters the season finale one game behind the Rangers for the No. 2 seed in the American League. A Tigers victory, coupled with a Rangers loss, would even the clubs' records but bump Detroit into the No. 2 spot by virtue of its 6-3 record against Texas this season.

That would mean a first-round meeting with either the Red Sox or the Rays, whichever team wins the Wild Card. Finishing as the No. 3 seed would mean a matchup against the Yankees.

"People get excited about this scenario and that scenario that could happen. Everybody gets all excited about it," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm not excited about it, to be honest with you, one bit. Because the fact of the matter is, I'm happy -- and I don't mean this disrespectful -- but I'm happy that I'm not in Boston's or Tampa Bay's or St. Louis' or Atlanta's spot right now. We're in. What should we be upset about?

"I don't know what we're going to do, but we're in. There's really no chaos for us. We're going to play somebody Friday night. That's the way I look at it."

The right-handed Porcello will play a role in October, so Wednesday could further build the confidence of a 22-year-old who will appear in his first postseason.

Porcello has been arguably at his best over the past few weeks. He has posted four consecutive quality starts, going 2-1 in that stretch with a 3.33 ERA. He is 3-1 overall with five quality outings in his last six starts since surrendering five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work on Aug. 21.

Countering Porcello will be Zach McAllister, who is looking to end the season on a high note in his fourth start of the year. The right-hander, who made his Major League debut on July 7, returns to the mound after taking a no-decision against the White Sox on Sept. 20. That day, McAllister allowed two earned runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.

McAllister's start brings to a conclusion what was a promising year for the Indians. After sprinting to a 31-20 record and five-game lead in the AL Central through May 31, Cleveland could not maintain the tempo despite moves to bolster the roster, including the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez.

Indians: Santana's sizzling last few weeks
Carlos Santana will end the season as arguably the hottest hitter in the Tribe's lineup. The catcher/first baseman is hitting .306 (19-for-62) with six home runs, 11 RBIs and six doubles in his last 17 games, hitting safely in 14 games. Santana, who began September with just two hits in his first 26 at-bats, will also end the year with the most home runs (27) by a switch-hitter in franchise history. Victor Martinez held the previous mark with 25 home runs in 2007. Santana is also the eighth Indians player all-time to record at least 25 home runs, 30 doubles and 90 walks in a season. Grady Sizemore last reached those marks in 2008.

Tigers: Fister's second-half value
• The Tigers acquired Doug Fister at the non-waiver Trade Deadline to help add depth to the rotation. In return, the right-hander has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA, 57 strikeouts and just five walks in 11 starts with the Tigers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Fister is the fourth pitcher since World War II to tally eight wins with no more than one loss after joining a new club during the season. Randy Johnson ('98 Astros, 10-1), Doyle Alexander ('87 Tigers, 9-0) and Rick Sutcliffe ('84 Cubs, 16-1) were the others to accomplish the feat.

• Miguel Cabrera enters the final day poised to claim the AL batting title. The slugger is hitting .343, with a five-point cushion over his closest pursuers, Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Rangers infielder Michael Young.

• Leyland is debating whether to use Jose Valverde on Wednesday. He would like to get Valverde two days of rest before Game 1 of the ALDS, when Justin Verlander could hand him a lead going into the ninth inning.

Worth noting
• The Tigers have won nine straight games against the Indians this season. If Detroit wins Wednesday's season finale, the club will match a franchise record for most consecutive wins over Cleveland (Sept. 1, 2009-May 8, 2010).

• Asdrubal Cabrera set an Indians record with 25 home runs as a shortstop, breaking Jhonny Peralta's record of 24 home runs in 2008. Comments